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REVIEW: Wizards

August 5, 2016 Leave a comment
WizardsDirected by: Ralph Bakshi
Produced by: Ralph Bakshi
Written by: Ralph Bakshi
Edited by: Donald W. Ernst
Music by: Andrew Belling
Starring: Bob Holt, Jesse Welles, Richard Romanus, David Proval, Steve Gravers, James Connell, Susan Tyrrell, Mark Hamill
Year: 1977

 

I’ve only seen a few films of Ralph Bakshi – Cool World, Fritz the Cat, and now this movie – but there was a time when his works were always in the back of my mind whenever the subject of animation history came up. Ever since I was a kid, in fact, which is funny since almost none of his work is remotely child-friendly, except for perhaps his adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. As a nerdy kid who studied almost anything that piqued my interest (but especially movies and video games), reading about Bakshi’s subversive, gritty, adult, and oftentimes controversial works always fascinated me. Revered as, if anything, noteworthy departures from the traditionally family fluff that, even today, is usually thought of as the default mode for animation in America, his stuff always stood out as almost mythical or even forbidden to my adolescent mind. I’d see references to it in stuff like The Simpsons and recognize the reference for what it was, but apart from maybe a few clips here and there, Bakshi’s animated films seemed to be spoken of in terms normally reserved for “banned” films like Song of the South and the infamous Censored Eleven – eleven Warner Bros. animated shorts that have been withheld from distribution due to their controversial, racially insensitive material. (I wasn’t far off in that regard, in retrospect, either.) Read more…

Theatrical Review: “The Wolverine”

August 1, 2013 4 comments
The WolverineDirected by: James Mangold
Produced by: Lauren Shuler Donner, Hugh Jackman, Hutch Parker, John Palermo
Written by: Mark Bomback, Scott Frank
Edited by: Michael McCusker
Cinematography by: Ross Emery
Music by: Marco Beltrami
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Will Yun Lee, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Brian Tee, Haruhiko (“Hal”) Yamanouchi, Ken Yamamura, Famke Janssen
Based on volume one of the comic book Wolverine by Chris Claremont
Year: 2013

 

It’s pretty telling that the filmmakers were confident enough in their hero that they felt like they could ditch the entire X-Men moniker for the film and coast solely upon the loner mutant who has been the team’s most famous member, Wolverine. The previous attempt (what was to be one of many) to cash in on the clawed Canuck, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, was without a doubt one of the messiest attempts to cash in on the X-Men and superhero craze, but its relative success at the box office, despite being behind the previous two X-Men films, proved that, as with comic book fans, the character had just as much staying power with movie audiences beyond his relationships to his teammates. Obviously, this meant that a sequel would be put into production – even as the series would ditch the whole X-Men Origins pretense (with the next entry, Magneto, being put down with a plastic bullet) and go in a decidedly new, exciting, and largely well-received direction with the period film, X-Men: First Class. Read more…

Theatrical Review: “Looper”

October 2, 2012 1 comment
Directed by: Rian Johnson
Produced by: Ram Bergman, James D. Stern
Written by: Rian Johnson
Cinematography by: Steve Yedlin
Music by: Nathan Johnson
Starring: Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Noah Segan, Piper Perabo, Pierce Gagnon, Paul Dano, Garret Dillahunt, Summer Qing
Year: 2012

 

If there’s any one element to appreciate in Looper, it’s the fact that writer/director Rian Johnson has committed to this sort of matter of fact tone with the film. Sure, there’s a bit of exhibition in the form of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s noir-ish narration, but, for the most part, this is a universe that we’re thrown into, given a bit of explanation for, and are asked to just accept. Though the world of the future as portrayed in the film from the years 2044 – 2074 is one that is relatively plausible in appearance (you’re not going to be seeing any androids, aliens, or regular use of spaceflight), it’s important that we accept this world for what it is despite its more fantastical elements, such as the mutation of telekinetic abilities in some members of the future population, as well as the film’s portrayal of the discovery of backwards time travel. The reason for this is because, though these elements play a great deal of a role in the story, the story itself is not necessarily about these elements. You’re not, for example, going to be getting an explanation as to how time travel was uncovered, just that it exists and is being used for nefarious purposes.

It’s almost impossible to sum up the narrative of Looper without delving into too many specifics and spoiling the plot for you, but I’ll try my best to summarize the premise without giving too much away. Read more…

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